Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

May 21st, 2016
einstein

“Yes, I do own a comb. Why do you ask?”

“Do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln 

Can you remember the last time someone mad fun of you because of some physical characteristic that you had? None of us are immune. Aren’t we all too tall, too short, too fat, foo skinny, too young, or too old?

This type of comment seems funny to the critic, but it can sting the recipient.

How should we respond to this type of criticism?

Step 1) Look deep inside yourself and acknowledge the fact that, yes, you do have quasimodo_03certain physical characteristics that make you distinct. (Maybe not as distinct as Quasimodo, but still distinct.)

Step 2) Use self-deprecating humor to deflect criticism.

There is great power in looking inside of ourselves, acknowledging who we really are, and in making fun of ourselves.

Abe Lincoln Example

Abraham Lincoln had a target on his back because he had two unique traits.

1) He was extremely tall and really thin. He stood six foot four inches tall and weighed only 170 pounds.

2) His face was so homely that it frightened small children and horses.homely face

Yet, despite being called “string bean,” “scarecrow” and “gorilla,” Lincoln was bullet proof from this type of criticism because he was better and funnier at criticizing himself than were his enemies.

Lincoln was invited to speak to a conference of newspaper editors in Chicago, some of whom were his fiercest critics. To break the ice he told this story:

One day I was riding along a mountain trail on my horse.

From the other direction came a woman on her horse. She stopped her horse and looked at me.

“I do believe you are the ugliest man I have ever seen,” she said.

‘That may be true, madam, but there’s not much I can do about it,” I replied.

“No, perhaps not, but you might at least stay home.”

The audience of editors laughed with Lincoln instead of at him. Lincoln’s goal was not just to respond to criticism, but to allow people to see his plight and bring them into his circle of friends.

Who, Me? Too Skinny?

Just last week, two so-called “friends” of mine made fun of me for being too skinny.

“Terry you looked like a broom wearing glasses,” said one person.

“Terry it’s so windy today, I’d better tie a sting to you before you fly away,” said the second one.

Okay I get it, I’m skinny. I laughed but I felt a little tinge of pain in my heart.

steve rrevesAs a child I always wanted to be strong and powerful like Hercules. I wished I could throw huge boulders at armies of men and single handedly defeat lions and bears. But, fate insisted that I have a DNA more like Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife. There is nothing I can do about that.

I thought about how Lincoln would have used this situation to convert enemies into friends, and I replied,

“In my defense, my doctor told me that I weigh the exact right amount for someone this awesome.”

My frenemies laughed with me instead of against me. Like Lincoln, I felt I had drawn them a little closer to my circle of friends.

A Deeper Perspective

How do we look at this from a deeper, philosophical view?

We could say, “Their dogma was to criticize me, but my karma allowed me to respond with humor.”

Metaphysically speaking, “my karma ran over their dogma.”

Upcoming Presentations/Events: 

June 10th, 2016. Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair. Tucson, AZ.

June, 2016. Time & date TBD. “Utilizing Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Lions Club, Tucson, AZ.

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Boldness had Genius, Power and Magic In It

Boldness had Genius, Power and Magic In It

May 1st, 2016

 

Snapshot 1 (4-14-2016 9-55 PM)

Speaking to Moon Valley Women’s Club

 

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

-Goethe

 

Moon Valley: The Force Awakens

In my presentation to the Moon Valley Women’s Club, at the Phoenix City Grille, I rattled on about the importance of viewing ourselves as being on a quest , or a “Hero’s Journey.”

Here is how W.H. Murray (in The Scottish Himalayan Expedition) famously related the benefits of his own Hero’s Journey:

The moment one definitely commits oneself,

Then Providence moves too.

All Sorts of things occur to help one

That would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision,

Raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen

Incidents and meetings and material assistance,

Which no man could have dreamt

Would have come his way.

My point is, we light a flame inside of ourselves when we begin to view our life as a Hero’s Journey. What’s more, we light the flame inside of others by converting our obstacles and challenges into stories of inspiration, motivation and humor.

Life as Tragedy

Of course, not everyone sees life as a quest. My friend Henry refers to himself a “serial entrepreneur” (code for “unemployed” or “unemployable”) and he sees life as more of a a tragedy. The other day he told me,

“You know Terry, ten years ago we had Steve Jobs. We had Bob Hope. We had Johnny Cash. Now, we have no jobs; we have no cash; and we have no hope.”

I am more optimistic than Henry is. My response to Henry is, “Martin Luther King never said ‘I have a complaint.’ ”

Disaster as Inspiration

I often relate my incident of being stuck overnight in the Phoenix airport after a flight cancelation, which turned into an extraordinary bonding experience with my two young boys (as related here).

Disaster/inspiration activity

Disaster/inspiration activity

One of the activities in my presentation is to have participants write down experiences in which disaster or tragedy has struck. Then, I ask them to write the story again, this time identifying how the disaster resulted in inspiration or humor, when viewed from the rear view mirror of life.

These heartfelt “tragedy to inspiration” stories can be quite poignant. For example:

1) A son who survived surgeries for a serious illness, now wants to study medicine and become a doctor;

2) Dropping out of college resulted in a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity; and,

3) A divorce became the opportunity to start a new, more inspired, life.

Many a story has tingled my back or brought a tear to my eye.

It can inspire awe to look back on challenging incidents and realize how they fit into the bigger picture of life.

Upcoming Presentations/Events

June 10th, 2016. Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair. Tucson, AZ.

June, 2016. Time & date TBD. “Utilizing Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Lions Club, Tucson, AZ.

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May 21st, 2016

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

March 26th, 2016

footprint in beach

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

– R. Buckminster Fuller

Transformational Speaking

Gail Larsen, in her excellent book Transformational Speaking, implores us that if we wish to inspire people, we must tell a better story than the ones we told before. Her book shows us how to make our speeches more moving, inspiring, and effective by speaking from the heart. In essence, if you are not moved by what you say, others will not be moved either.

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

One story that came to mind as I read Transformational Speaking, was when my mother passed away, three years ago in May.

She was in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation clinics a lot at the end. It was a stressful time for both my mother and I. She often said, “My get up and go, got up and went.”

Yet, even in the midst of this hurricane, there were also peaceful moments when we could chat while sharing lunch or when putting a jigsaw puzzle together. I admired how she responded to the difficulties with a kind nature.

Funny Bone Workinghospital foto

However, my blood boiled when health care “professionals” treated her like an object rather than as a person. Even when people acted as though she were invisible, or worse, as though she was not “all there,” my mother never wavered in being thoughtful and accommodating.

One humorous incident that occurred in my mother’s hospital room. My mom was in her hospital bed and a lady walked into the room and stared intently into my mother’s eyes.

“Lois, how are you feeling? Why haven’t you called? We have all been worried sick about you.”

My mother and I both looked at her with blank expressions on our faces.

“Don’t you recognize me, It’s Bernice.”

“I don’t think I know you,” said Mom.

Bernice looked at me and said, “Tell her who I am.”

“I’ve never seen you before.”

Then, this perplexed (and perplexing) woman suddenly walked back out of the room.

“Quick, lock the door. She might come back,” Mom said.

Though most of her other body parts were worn out, Mom’s funny bone was still working like new.

The Lesson

I watched my mother’s courageous example of how to deal with:

1) the physical tribulation of her body wearing out; and

2) the mental antagonism from people who treated her like a “has been.”

I took note as she refused to let life’s indignations tarnish her heart. Instead, she just smiled, joked, and kept on doing the best she could.

When the time comes after “my get up and go got up and went,” I will follow her lead.

Like Abraham Lincoln said,

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have.”

Upcoming Presentations:

April 9, 2016. “Storytelling and The Hero’s Journey.” Competitive Edge Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 14, 2016, 12:30 to 1:30. “Use Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones, Like Abraham LIncoln Did.” Moon Valley Women’s Club, Phoenix, Arizona.

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Convert Affliction to Anecdote – Utilizing the Stories from Your Hero’s Journey

February 28th, 2016

mu114

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
– Joseph Campbell

The Hero’s Journey

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes the Hero’s Journey as a life-altering quest where, after passing through trials, the hero is transformed to a higher level of consciousness.

The stages of the journey are:cave

1) The “call.” The hero sets off on a quest.

2) The journey into unknown territory.

3) The supreme ordeal. As Campbell puts it, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

4) Sharing the wisdom gained.

Being on a Hero’s Journey enhances the hero’s perception. They feel like unseen forces are intervening to protect and guide them. The hero has a sense that everything happens for a reason.

The Hero’s Journey of Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was on a Hero’s Journey in his life long quest to become president. In Lincoln’s case, his Hero’s Journey made him aware of the lessons and stories in every day experiences. Life had meaning and seemingly random incidents held significance. He could draw out the deeper gist that existed just below the surface of most people’s perception.

Clip 1:

Clip 2:

 

Grasping “The Big Picture”

Several years ago, when I worked in Honduras, I came across two stonecutters.

“What are you doing?” I asked the first stonecutter.

“Squaring the stone,” the man replied.

“What are you doing?” I asked the second stonecutter.

“I am building a cathedral,” the man replied.

Okay. The second guy was a little presumptuous, but he still gets points for seeing the big picture.

Your Hero’s JourneyHerosJourney41

I believe that we are all on a Hero’s Journey, and like Lincoln, we are endowed with the ability to discern the profound stories and parables that unfold before our eyes every day. We have only to be prepared to see them.

Convert Affliction to Anecdote (Activity)

Put yourself in the right perspective to capture the stories of your daily life.

Write down the significant bad things that have happened to you in life. Then, as bad and unfair as these incidents might have seemed at the time, identify some lessons you learned from them, or how you became a better person as a result.

Here are some examples (based on personal experience):

1) How missing a flight and having to spend the night in a strange city with your kids became a treasured memory.

2) How an illness indicated you that you needed to make changes in your unhealthy life style.

3) How being replaced by a chimpanzee at your job led you down the challenging path to work that was closer to your heart.

4). How you looked deep inside yourself for the fortitude to bounce back from a dismal failure.

Are the catastrophes of life bad, or is life just trying to teach us a lesson?

The Hero’s Perspective: Change Your Unholy Mess to Unparalleled the-wicked-witch-of-the-west-ozMetaphor

You show me someone who is on a Hero’s Journey and I’ll show you a resilient, unflinching individual who converts life’s challenges into stories of inspiration, strength and humor.

To paraphrase author Norman Maclean, from A River Runs Through It,

“In the end, all our failures and successes merge into one, and a story runs through it.”

Upcoming Presentations:

March 21, 2016, 7:00 am. “Finding Stories in Your Hero’s Journey.” Aztec Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 9, 2016. “Storytelling and The Hero’s Journey.” Cometitive Edge Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 14, 2016, 12:30 to 1:30. “Use Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones, Like Abraham LIncoln Did.” Moon Valley Women’s Club, Phoenix, Arizona.

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Abraham Lincoln and the Kindergarten Class

February 22nd, 2016
download

Abraham Lincoln’s dog, Fido

When I got him out he was near froze solid and shivering. He was shaking so hard that I wasted half a glass of whiskey trying to aim it for his mouth. Must have got enough of it into him, though, since it did seem to bring him back to life.

Abraham Lincoln, on what it took to save his dog after pulling him from a river where he went through thin ice

 

Last Wednesday I spoke to the Kindergarten class at St. Cyril’s School.

The class was studying Abraham Lincoln and as an author of a book about our 16th president, I was honored with an invitation to speak to the class.

I was amazed at how much these young Einsteins knew about Mr. Lincoln. The regaled me with facts about his life that even I didn’t know. I shared a few stories with them.

What seemed of most interest to the students was information on:

1)  Lincoln’s pets.

a) Abe Lincoln’s beloved dog “Fido,” was Lincoln’s constant companion as he walked the streets of Springfield. Fido had to be left behind with friends when the Lincoln family moved to the White House. Lincoln feared that his faithful friend could not survive the trip.

Lincoln on "Old Bob"

Lincoln on “Old Bob”

b) “Old Bob,” Lincoln’s horse that he rode as President in Washington, D.C. When Lincoln died, “Old Bob” pulled the wagon carrying his master’s coffin through the funeral procession.

William “Willie” Lincoln

 

2) Lincoln’s children – Eddie, Willie, Tad and Robert.

Eddie died of tuberculosis in Springfield, Illinois, in 1850, at age 4.

Willie died of typhoid fever in Washington, D.C., in 1862, at age 11.

Tad died of tuberculosis in Chicago, in 1871, at age 18.

Only Robert lived into adulthood. He became a lawyer and served as Secretary of

Thomas “Tad” Lincoln

War, Ambassador to England, and was often mentioned by the Republican Party as a potential candidate for President.

However, Robert never aspired to be President. He died in Manchester, Vermont, in 1926 at age 82.

Speaking to the Kindergarten class was a great thrill for me. Their love of learning about Abraham Lincoln rejuvenated my faith in the next generation.

Robert Todd Lincoln

Class photos:

20160217_133701 (3)

 20160217_135919
 Upcoming Presentations:

March 21, 2016, 7:00 am. “Finding Stories in Your Hero’s Journey.” Aztec Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 9, 2016. “Storytelling and The Hero’s Journey.” Cometitive Edge Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 14, 2016, 12:30 to 1:30. “Use Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones, Like Abraham LIncoln Did.” Moon Valley Women’s Club, Phoenix, Arizona.

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December 27th, 2015

roto rooter truck

“Trust everyone, but always cut the cards.”

— Anon

The Roto-Rooter Christmas Grinch

Two days before Christmas, the sewer backed up in my house.

My brother suggested that I try Roto-Rooter (slogan: We’re #1 in the number 2 business!). They charged him $65 to clean out his clogged sewer pipe. My regular plumber charges $95.

I gave Roto-Rooter a call.

“Helloooo, this is Roto-Rooter, Susan speaking.”

“Hi Susan, my name is Terry, I have a backed up sewer and need it cleaned out. I understand that you charge $65.”

Several seconds passed with no response.

“Hello,” I said.

“Yes, well we don’t have a $65 service. That might be Rapid Rooter. I can send a plumber over to give you a free estimate.”

A red flag started waving in my mind.

I thought, I’ll let them do the free estimate. How much could a simple job like this cost?  

“Okay,” I said, “send him over for a free estimate.”

“How will you be paying for the service, by credit card, check or cash?”

Another red flag went up.

“Credit card,” I replied.

The plumber arrives in an official red, white and blue Roto-Rooter truck.

He said, “Hi I’m Frank,” as he smiled and shook my hand.

We exchanged pleasantries then he quickly inspected my sewer setup.

Grinch

Today is your lucky day!

“I can clean out your main sewer drain for only $225.”

“That sounds a little high. It’s only a 10 minute job.”

“The $225 is actually a Christmas present we are giving to our customers. We normally charge $300.”

“Really? I’d call that more of a Christmas present that Roto-Rooter is giving to itself, at the expense of its customers.”

“Would you rather have sewer water in your house?”

“No, I’d rather call someone else who will charge a fair price.”

“Okay. Have a good day,” He said, but he was probably thinking,

There are plenty of other easy marks willing to pay the Christmas ‘special’ price.

I called my regular plumber and paid the $95 to have the sewer pipe cleaned.

I wondered how many other innocent victims fell for this Grinch-like mumbo jumbo.

Your Car Will Crash and Burn!

This Roto-Rooter ploy reminded the cross-country trip my family took when I was 10 years old.

national-lampoons-car

The engine in our 1964 Chevy Station Wagon started making a funny noise near Wichita, Kansas. My father stopped at a garage to have it checked out.

After a twenty minute wait, a greasy mechanic, with the nametag “Bob,” came out. He said,

“You need to replace the thermostat and you need a balancing rod.”

My dad replied, “Just replace the thermostat, Bob.”

“I highly recommend a new balancing rod. I wouldn’t drive this car another mile without it.”

“No thanks.”

After the mechanic left, I said, “Dad, I’m worried, it sounds like we really need that balancing rod.”

“We’ll be okay.”

While waiting for our car, I heard the same mechanic tell another customer, “Your car needs a new balancing rod. I would be afraid drive that car without it.”

I was stunned. A mechanic would actually lie to someone about his car?

The Lesson

The next time I smell a rat like Frank or Bob, I will avoid that business the same way I avoid clichés – like the plague!

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

Like the storytelling of Abraham Lincoln, I think one’s own personal stories can transform both the listener and the speaker.

Upcoming Presentations: 

February 17, 2016, 1:30 pm. “Life of Abraham Lincoln.” St Cyril School , Tucson, Arizona.

March 21, 2016, 7:00 am. “Finding Stories in Your Hero’s Journey.” Aztec Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 9, 2016. “Storytelling and The Hero’s Journey.” Cometitive Edge Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 14, 2016, 12:30 to 1:30. “Use Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones, Like Abraham LIncoln Did.” Moon Valley Women’s Club, Phoenix, Arizona.

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December 20th, 2015

evil hot chocolate

 

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

— Abraham Lincoln

 

The Hot Chocolate Caper

Upon clocking in at school yesterday, Diane, the office manager said,

“Hi Terry, I made hot chocolate for all the teachers. Please help yourself to some.”

“Thanks. I’ll get some a little later.” My hands were full, but I had to bring my class to the library later and I planned to get my cup of hot chocolate then.

At 9:30, as my students worked on the library computers, I slipped out, grabbed a cup of hot chocolate in the office and took it back to the library with me.

I took a sip out of my cup.

Yuck! This tastes like hot brown dishwater!

“What do you think about this so-called hot chocolate?” I asked the librarian.

“It’s ghastly. I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot barge pole,” she replied.

coffee

Then, the librarian left to run some errands.

Since there was no sink in the library, I set the vile concoction inside of a trash can in front of librarian’s desk. There was a plastic bag lining the trash can.

A few minutes later, a couple of other teachers wandered into the library and started chatting.

One of the teachers looked in the trash can.

“Oh my God, someone put a full cup of hot chocolate in the trash can,” she gasped loudly.

My face flushed.

I opened my mouth to admit to my crime, but before I could say a word, the teacher reached into the trash can and removed the cup of hot chocolate.

“This is unacceptable. Who would do such a thing?” she asked with a frown.

It was too late to confess. From the tone of her voice, I realized that the teacher would not be happy until someone did jail time for this heinous crime.

I turned and walked to the other side of the library.

wicke witch

I’ll get you, my pretty!

I was ready for the teacher to look me in the eye and ask in a creaky witch-like voice, “What do you know about this?”

Fortunately, she didn’t ask that question and I soon took my students out of the library and back to safety of the classroom.

I felt guilty for not coming forward with the truth, but I was in a Kobayashi Maru (no win) scenario that would baffle even Captain James T. Kirk.

cap Kirk 2

……………………..Uncle!!!……………………………….

 

I now think that teacher is out to get me, waiting for me to slip up. As I pass down the hallways of school, even if I don’t see her, my back tingles as I feel her evil gaze upon me.

The Lesson

As every politicians knows, the cover up is always worse than the crime. Next time, I will just confess to my error and let the chips fall where they may.

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

Like the storytelling of Abraham Lincoln, I think one’s own personal stories can transform both the listener and the speaker.

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Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

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Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts

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December 13th, 2015

twilight zone

Energy and persistence conquer all things.

— Benjamin Franklin

 

Sending a Simple Money Gram?

My wife and I sent a money gram from Wells Fargo to a relative. Sounds easy as pie, right?

Unfortunately, the relative was not able to collect the money because their name had been typed incorrectly.

We went back to Wells Fargo the next day and asked the teller for help. The teller walked over to talk to the manager. She came back to her window and told us,

“I’m sorry, we can’t help you.”

You Are Traveling Through Another Dimension

“What do you mean you can’t help us? Are we in the Twilight Zone? You got us into this mess.”

She stared at me like she didn’t know what I was talking about.

“You know, the old TV show with Rod Serling.”

robot teller

She continued to stare without blinking.

“A spooky show where strange things happen . . . never mind.”

The teller said,

“I do apologize. After we send the money gram, we don’t have anything else to do with it. You will have to call this 800 number.”

She solemnly handed me a paper with an 800 number on it and began to tidy up here teller area, indicating the conversation was over.

We’ll get home and this phone number will only give us the runaround. They should just call the 800 number for us, while we’re here, I thought.

Unfortunately, I didn’t say it out loud.

Of course, we went home and called the 800 number and there was nothing on the menu related to money grams. What’s worse, it was impossible to speak to a human being.

Our Dander is Raised

The following day we marched back into Wells Fargo, ready to give someone a piece of our mind.

This time, a different crew was working there. The teller passed us on to a personal banker. She introduced herself.

“Hi, my name is Shirley Atkins. How may I assist you?”

“Well, we came yesterday to fix a spelling problem on our money gram. The clerk told us to call this 800 number, which we did, but we hit a brick wall.”

“Please have a seat. Let me give it a try.” Our indignation started to melt away.

She called the 800 number.

“How frustrating,” she said. “It’s impossible to talk to anyone. Let me try some other number.”

While she dialed phone numbers, Shirley also engaged us in light chit-chat.

“What type of jobs do you have?” she asked.

“We are teachers,” my wife responded. “How long have you worked here?’

“Only one week,” Shirley said.

Aha, I thought. Maybe that’s why she is so good. She hasn’t worked here long enough to become contaminated.

After about 10 minutes of pleasant conversation, interspersed with Shirley talking to people on the phone, she had resolved our problem.

The question ran through my mind,

How is it that Shirley was such a good employee, and the other employees were so bad? Were the others just part of an android experiment gone horribly wrong?

The truth may never be completely known, but I do kn0w that if we hadn’t been persistent we would never have resolved our problem.

An Earlier Pivotal Moment

I was reminded of a similar incident that took place when I was student at Colorado State University.

I was terrified of public speaking, but I was required to take a speech class. In spite of my enormous anxiety, I managed to make all of the speeches. Granted, I was as nervous as Don Knotts, but the content was good, and almost all of my speeches received a grade of “B.”

Don knotts

At the end of the quarter, I was shocked to find that I received a “C” on my report card for Speech.

This must be a mistake! I know I did better than that.

However, I was so introverted that the idea of confronting the teacher mortified me. For years afterwards, I had headaches when I thought about that incident.

Ironically, I could have applied the public speaking skills I had learned in class, but at that time I just couldn’t muster the courage to do it.

The Lesson

As time passed, that one incident has motivated me to stand up for my rights. The pain of that memory transformed into a source of strength.

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

Like the storytelling of Abraham Lincoln, I think one’s own personal stories can transform both the listener and the speaker.

———

Upcoming Presentation

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “How Abe Lincoln Used Stories and Humor.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

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Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10

December 6th, 2015

DONALD TRUMP

 

“My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.” — Donald Trump

 

Responding to Obstacles and Misforturne

No matter what the obstacle, Donald Trump never gets off message – “I am the best candidate for president,” he says, with the insinuation that “anyone who questions me is an idiot.”

Minor details such as his apparent fabrications of the truth, insults hurled at opponents and journalists, contradictions of earlier positions he took, don’t bother him in the least. Because Mr. Trump radiates such self-assurance, we are inclined to believe him and overlook his seemingly half-baked statements.

We may choose to respond to setbacks like Donald Trump and bombastically claim we have been unfairly treated and misunderstood.

For most of us, however, misfortune gives us pause for thought. Contrary to Mr. Trump, we may respond to setbacks with a sigh and a smile. We could take the attitude that we may have lost a battle, but at least we come away with our self- respect intact and maybe we learned something along the way.

The Rental Car Epiphany

Last week I rented a car to take my wife and two boys to Los Angeles over the Thanksgiving break. As we drove out of my driveway, I discovered that the car had no cruise control. I decided to exchange to car for one with cruise control. While waiting at the counter I heard a commotion at another car company at the other end of the room.

A customer was yelling at the two desk attendants.

“I already told him!” I heard the man scream while flailing his arms at one of the attendants.

I couldn’t hear all that was said, but obviously the man was dissatisfied and he was in full-rant mode. It was like watching Mount St. Helens explode.

Volcano

I am not going to take this bulldozer approach, even if they never switch my car, I thought.

“This car I got didn’t have cruise control. If I could, I’d like to switch it for one that does. Sorry, I didn’t check that before I left,” I said to the attendant.

“I’ll look and see if we have one available with cruise,” he said.

“Thank you. I appreciate that.”

“No problem. Have a good trip.”

Without bursting one blood vessel, I was able to get a car with cruise control and have a fun trip to LA.

In fairness to the guy who blew his top, he was probably already having a bad day, even before the rental car meltdown. We’ve all been there. We have days where if one more person tries to take advantage of us, it pushes us over the edge, like Billy Jack.

 

I try to avoid that explosive situation by keeping in mind my long-term goals.

In the back of my mind, my objective is to make friends with the counter attendant, and beyond that, to win them over to my way of thinking with friendliness and reason. I believe that life is inherently fair and if I calmly explain the problem, the attendant will see the light.

To see it from the attendant’s position, nine times out of ten, the staff person is only following the company policy.

As Abraham Lincoln said,

“A drop of honey that catches one’s heart, when once gained, you will find little trouble in convincing their judgement of the justice of your cause.”

Lincoln’s approach seems a bit more practical to me than Donald Trump’s.

 

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

———

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Upcoming Presentations

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “How Abe Lincoln Used Stories.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

 

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

November 29th, 2015

bagels

 

Perhaps love is like is like a resting place

A shelter from the storm

It exists to give you comfort

It is there to keep you warm 

–John Denver, “Perhaps Love”

 

The Great Bagel Snafu

Last Wednesday, the new assistant principal bought bagels and coffee for the entire staff. I moseyed over to the teacher’s lounge and grabbed a bagel.

On my way to class, a teacher said, “The new assistant principal seems like a good guy. He said he came out of retirement to work here.”

“Was he in the teacher’s lounge?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Holy mackerel! I didn’t realize that. I didn’t say ‘thanks’ to our our bagel benefactor. He’ll think I’m an ungrateful dolt.”

My guilty feeling hung like a dark cloud over my head.

A Second Chance

At 10:30 am my class went to the art room and there was the assistant principal repairing a computer.

This is my opportunity to redeem myself, I thought.

I walked over to the assistant principal and said,

“Thanks for the bagels and coffee this morning. I’m Terry Sprouse, long term sub in room 15.”

“You’re welcome. I’m Jim Francis, assistant principal and retired geometry teacher.”

“I guess it’s true, old geometry teachers don’t die, they just go off on a tangent,” I said.

He smiled.

geometry

I had received a second chance to correct my earlier oversight and this time I got it right.

My Dad

I was reminded about when my dad passed away in 1982. He had been hospitalized after a heart attack. Each night after work, I would go hang out with him. We would watch a movie on TV, or joke about the painting class we had been taking together.

One night a violent rain and thunder storm hit. The streets were flooded and I couldn’t make it to the hospital to see my dad. I was awakened by a knock at my door at 4:00 in the morning. There were two police officers there.

“Are you Terry Sprouse?” one policeman asked.

“Yes.”

“Your mother called because the phones lines down. She wants you to go to the hospital.”

“Thanks,” I said weakly, as I imagined the bad news that awaited me at the hospital.

I drove to the hospital. The rain had stopped.

“You’re father passed away early this morning,” my mom said. I felt disheartened because I wasn’t there with him at the end of his life.

That feeling stayed with me for many years.

scales

A Chance to Balance the Scales

Then last year, my mother passed away.

“She only has a few hours to live,” the doctor said when my son and I arrived at the hospital.

I felt heartache, but I also had a deep feeling of gratefulness because I could be there to share her final hours. It was like I had gotten a second chance to make up for not being with my dad when he passed away.

The Lesson

What I learned is that life often gives us a second chance to balance the scales. The next time I fail to do the right thing, I will watch for a second chance to come around.

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

Like the storytelling of Abraham Lincoln, I think one’s own personal stories can transform both the listener and the speaker.

———

Related Posts

Yard Sales, Heroic Cats and Zombies

Overcome obstacles and doubts by doing more than anyone expected

Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

A feather is better than a hammer to win an argument #tmoy #storytelling

Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts

A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments 6

Act Out Characters to Make a Story Sizzle (video)

Turn frustration into creative energy #LifeLesson 7

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10

Failures Can Be Transformed into Strength – #LifeLesson 11

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

Think for Yourself: Never Ask a Barber if You Need a Haircut – LifeLesson #13

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

Upcoming Presentations

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “How Abe Lincoln Used Stories.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.